have a new General Instruction for the Roman Missal, and it is now law
for the Church. It contains the norms and rubrics for the celebration of
Mass, and it provides us a wonderful opportunity to achieve consistency
of celebration and expectation through all our parishes and religious
The General Instruction is new, but it is not news.
We have been preparing in our Diocese for well over a year for its
implementation. Information sessions have been provided for all of our
priests, deacons, religious, principals, directors of religious
education, teachers, catechists, liturgical ministers. Parishes have had
the opportunity and the materials to make our people fully aware of
what is expected.
I am deeply grateful, and edified, by the
terrific attendance that has been typical of these sessions. Educational
programs will continue to go forward in our parishes. These programs
should promote not only a stronger awareness of the rubrics but also an
ever deeper appreciation of the Eucharist, "the source and summit of the
The changes involved are not radical or
alarming. They really are clarifications of what is expected so that we
might have more reverence and uniformity in our Eucharistic
The General Instruction addresses a variety of
concerns: rubrics for celebration, posture (kneeling, standing,
sitting), architecture, appointments of the altar and sanctuary,
position of the tabernacle, music, sacred vessels, vestments, etc. In
October we mailed out a chart describing all that is involved to all the
parishes and religious institutions in our diocese. In addition we
provided in that mailing a copy of the new Norms for Holy Communion
Under Both Kinds.
It is expected that all our parishes and religious institutions will follow these prescriptions.
At this point I would like to highlight a few directives which all should know, and which are effective December 1, 2002.
faithful should stand from the words of the priest, "Pray, brothers and
sisters," before the Prayer over the Gifts. This change of posture is
made in order to assure that the faithful are standing for the start of
the Prayer over the Gifts, similar to the posture for the other
presidential prayers (the Collect, and the Prayer after Communion).
faithful should kneel after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus
(Holy, Holy, Holy) through the Great Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer. The
faithful are asked to remain kneeling through the singing of the Great
Amen, in order to prevent the singing of this important acclamation from
being interrupted by the change of posture anticipated by the faithful.
The faithful stand for the Our Father through the Lamb of God, then kneel until Communion.
norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United
States is standing. No communicant, however, should be denied Holy
Communion because of kneeling. Communicants should bow before receiving
Holy Communion, both before the Host and, if receiving from the chalice,
before the Precious Blood.
Following reception of Holy Communion, the faithful may kneel or sit in their pews.
can readily see that these changes are not earthshaking. They do make
clear, however, what is expected for the rubrics of standing, kneeling,
and sitting during the Mass.
Continued work and preparation are
necessary to make our celebrations of the Eucharist increasingly more
beautiful and meaningful. We must persist in assuring that reverence is
achieved in every way possible. I would suggest that efforts along these
lines would be excellent New Year's resolutions.
It is of
paramount importance that our celebrations of the Mass allow all of us
to experience the fullness of spiritual wealth that is the Mass. It is
central to our faith. With the beginning of Advent may we come to deeper
and richer lives of faith through our love for Word and Sacrament.
Happy New Year!
Most Rev. Henry J. Mansell
Bishop of Buffalo
November 24, 2002